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Somehow Melisandre managed to keep her urgent impulses in check and her mounting passion for the enthralling stranger contained. And she and Chloe spent some time idly playing and talking of this and that, as they lingered together in their secluded tidal pool paradise.

Chloe was so full of curiosity and Mel found herself speaking quite openly and freely in response to the queer girl’s questions. She seemed unconcerned, or perhaps more properly unfamiliar with the usual affairs. Mel’s occupation as an editor and her transition into freelance work, seemed somehow beyond the strange girl. Likewise, the mundane affairs of Whalers Rest, and the inhabitants of the Hartford peninsula.

Not that Chloe was uncomprehending or unintelligent in any way. Far from it in fact. She seemed singularly agile of intellect, and unusually emotionally insightful.

It seemed more the case that mundane subjects, were simply beyond the girl’s experience. Almost as if she lived in a completely different world, where the daily concerns of normal people were irrelevant.

She seemed far more concerned with Mel’s feelings, and with her emotional experience of the world than anything else. And it charmed and delighted Melisandre that Chloe seemed so spellbound and interested in who she truly was deep down. Rather than by the superficial and irrelevant things with which people usually concerned themselves.

And Chloe was so remarkably empathetic, so astonishingly attuned to Melisandre’s feelings. As though she knew her thoughts and the turmoil in her heart. Like she could see straight through her to her very soul. Almost as though she could read her mind and divine her very thoughts.

And Chloe’s presence was also extraordinarily calming, and curiously charged with intimate invitation. So much so that Mel found herself opening up on subjects she would not ordinarily even countenance sharing with a complete stranger.

But there was something so oddly reassuring and familiar about the girl, Mel had the queerest sensation of safety and comfort. In fact the weight of the world seemed to fall from Mel’s mind the more she talked with Chloe. Or perhaps, for as romantic as such a characterization rang in her mind, the way she communed with this singular soul.

The wondrous truth of the matter was that Mel felt strangely protected, as though no calamity could possibly visit her while she was with this queer girl. Chloe had a profound magic and charisma about her, an almost otherworldly quality that suggested she was too amazing to be real. And that no harm could possibly befall Melisandre while she was in Chloe’s company and care.

And Chloe was a contradiction of charming simplicity and sweet natured humour. Juxtaposed against a tremendously profound depth of soul and intellect. And her voice, the way she talked, the queer impression of poetic musicality to her voice, seemed only to grow in intensity.

Her hypnotic song was just so intensely beguiling, so captivating and mesmerizing. The crashing of the waves as they rolled inexorably nearer with the encroaching tide, seemed somehow muted and far removed when she spoke. Even the wind blowing in from the south seemed to fall to a gentle hush, as though quieted by the lyrical sensuality of Chloe’s song.

And Melisandre yet again found herself overwhelmed with the insistent urge to swim into Chloe’s arms. To lose herself in her embrace and to surrender entirely to the fathomless depths of that sweet romantic music. Just as urgently as she ached to kiss that impossibly gorgeous mouth.

But their time together passed all too quickly. And soon the little tidal pool began to rise as the ocean crept inexorably towards the shore. The encroaching tide gradually eroding the magic of the encounter.

“We should go, the tide will be in soon.” Melisandre remarked, as the water rose ever higher.

“Mmm….” Chloe replied noncommittally before continuing. “….would you like to swim with me again sometime Melisandre?”

“Yes.” Mel replied, her heart jumping with excitement at the prospect.

“When?” Chloe asked animatedly “Tomorrow afternoon, like today?”

At which Melisandre shook her head and found herself smiling broadly as she boldly took Chloe’s hand in hers.

“No….not soon enough….”

“….tomorrow morning? Maybe we could have lunch after….or something…?”

Melisandre’s impetuosity and bluntness took her quite by surprise, she was never this bold and forthright about pursuing what she wanted. But Chloe was just so singularly desirable and Mel wanted to see her again with such fervour, that caution and her natural shyness had quite departed from her mind.

Melisandre feeling nothing but the most profound need to immerse herself entirely in Chloe’s magic, to surrender herself to the strange and wondrous girl.

“Okay” Chloe laughed “I’ll be here tomorrow morning.”

“Okay.” Melisandre replied dreamily.

“But wait, before you go….”

And Chloe seemed to search the pool for a moment or two before diving underwater and digging around in the sand for what seemed like several minutes. Until eventually she surfaced again clutching some object, apparently not the least bit short of breath.

“Close your eyes and give me your hand, Melisandre.” Chloe insisted.

“Why….what are you going to do…?” Mel giggled, half expecting some comically unpleasant surprise.

“Nothing bad, just do it” Chloe smiled brightly, happily engaging with Melisandre’s gay trepidation.

Mel obeyed and closed her eyes while extending her right hand. Whatever this game was, it was delighting her sense of playfulness and adventure no end. And Melisandre felt Chloe take her hand in hers and slip something onto her middle finger before speaking once more.

“There….you can look now.”

Mel inspected her hand to discover the most beautiful and curiously designed ring she had ever seen. It was thin and delicately wrought of bright lustrous gold with a faint blueish green tint.

“Oh my god…!” Melisandre exclaimed in astonishment. “Chloe….It’s gorgeous….but….”

“….are you seriously telling me, that you just dug that up out of the sand?”

“Yes.”

“That’s impossible!”

“No, it’s not” Chloe laughed in response to Mel’s incredulity.

“There’s treasure all over the place here. But you can’t tell anyone, or it won’t be a secret anymore….”

“….do you promise Mel?”

“Huh…?”

“…. oh….of course….I promise, I won’t tell anyone….”

“….oh Chloe, thank you….I love it.”

“Welcome home Melisandre….” Chloe smiled.

“….but you should really go now. The high tide is coming in.”

And indeed the ocean was becoming thunderous as waves began to reach ever nearer the shore, leaving Mel feel a little uneasy. Aware as she was of the rapidity with which the tides could move and the potentially hazardous character of the open ocean. She pulled herself up out of the tidal pool and grabbed her towel and wrapped it around her. Chloe however remained where she was, treading water while Melisandre collected her things.

“Um….do you want to walk back up with me….?” Melisandre enquired hopefully.

“…. maybe have coffee….or something…?”

“No.” Chloe replied with a warm smile.

“I go a different way.”

“And besides, we’ll see each other tomorrow.”

And a little puzzled, Melisandre searched the isolated cove. She couldn’t imagine what this other way was, it looked like sheer cliff all around. But she took Chloe’s statement at face value nonetheless.

“Okay…well, I better get going. Thanks for my gift” Mel smiled brightly “I love it.”

“You’re welcome….” Chloe answered, still remained in the pool showing no apparent intention of getting out.

“Um…see you tomorrow then…?”

“Yes.”

Mel lingered awkwardly for a moment longer before finally departing, eventually making her way back up the beach. And as she ascended the narrow path back to Wakes Peak cottage, it occurred to Mel that Chloe must have been waiting for her to leave before she got out of the rising tidal pool.

Maybe the water provided for Chloe the modesty Mel’s bathing suit afforded her. Maybe she was perfectly content to be seen naked in the water but not otherwise. It certainly wouldn’t be the oddest thing about the girl, not by a long way. And Melisandre began to feel a dunce for not catching on sooner, for lingering a moment too long before leaving.

But Mel’s self-conscious internal criticisms were once again overwhelmed by Chloe’s infectious playfulness and beguiling beauty. And she soon forgot her concerns, until half way up the path where a break in the trees afforded Melisandre a view of the cove below. She turned to see if Chloe was still there in the tidal pool, or if she was ascending the path in her wake. But it had all vanished now, the secluded little beach, the pools with their little silver fish, everything. All consumed by the high tide.

And whatever ‘other way’ Chloe had intended on taking, Mel guessed she must have taken it, because she was gone now too. A curious thought emerging in Melisandre’s mind which she found herself uttering aloud.

“If she was ever there in the first place….if she was even real….”

 

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